PC gaming comes with plenty of perks, from overclocking and custom configurations to high end graphics and raw horsepower. And the arrival of DirectX 12 on Windows 10 amplifies the best facets of playing on PC, making the free upgrade a no-brainer if you're serious about leveling-up your game. Who doesn't love a little more "oomph" under the hood - especially when it's free, right?

If you're keen to dance along the bleeding edge, join us as we dig deeper into what DirectX 12 can do for your gaming experience.

The benefits of DirectX 12 and how it works

Most PC enthusiasts know of DirectX - you've probably seen its notifications pop-up during installs - but you may not know what it is or why it's so critical. DirectX 12 is the latest version of Microsoft's graphics, video, and multimedia API, which is a big part of what enables modern games to look and perform so amazingly. While this major API upgrade will also benefit Xbox One and tablets, PC gamers running Windows 10 will see the most dramatic results.

The biggest benefits DirectX 12 brings to the battlefield comes in the form of better frame rates, faster performance, and greater power efficiency. It gives developers low-level access to hardware options, allowing for much greater control and efficiency over how processes are spread out across your computer cores and other critical systems. Other benefits of DirectX 12 include backwards compatibility with DirectX 11 hardware and strong performance even on lower-end machines, including laptops and tablets.

The bottom line here is games taking advantage of this will look better, play better, and not hog as much of your system's resources. In fact, benchmark tests show DirectX 12 can boost performance by as much as 50 percent while halving the power draw.

Speaking of games, let's get to the good stuff and dig into the hottest games that currently support this important upgrade.

DirectX 12 compatible games at a glance

It's easy to geek out over tech specs and the nitty-gritty data, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the games, right? While developers are still coming on-board in making the best use of DirectX 12's powerful functionality, many studios have already tapped into its power to enhance their PC games. Here's a quick look at some of the recent and upcoming games that support DirectX 12.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Newly patched with DirectX 12 support, Lara Croft's latest critically acclaimed outing adds better performance and visual fidelity to the outstanding survival adventure. If you haven't experienced Croft's ongoing evolution in a fresh direction, it's definitely worth checking out. Available now.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: This upcoming entry in the long-running cyberpunk series weaves together slick stealth options and intense first-person shooting action, and it's shaping up to be one hell of a gritty sci-fi adventure. Augmented operative Adam Jensen's next outing already looks gorgeous, too, so keep your eyes peeled when it ships in Q3 this year.

Quantum Break: Bending time and space is no biggie in this cinematic action-adventure, where you must use your surprising powers to thwart a nefarious corporation and stop the fabric of time from imploding. Expect lots of temporal craziness and some scenic eye-candy when this excitement-packed shooter drops on PC. Out Now.

Forza Motorsport 6: Apex: Making its franchise debut on PC, Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will soon be available for free (curated version) on the Windows store. It's designed to showcase DirectX 12 in up to 4K resolution and aims to get your feet wet with the series' ultra-realistic rubber-burning racing. Due in Q3.

King of Wushu: A kung-fu themed MOBA? Oh, heck yeah! King of Wushu stands out as one of the most visually impressive MOBAs we've seen in a while. The distinct visual style is certainly unique in the space, and we can't wait to see how it spins out when the game hits PC in the near future. Release date TBC.

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (pictured right): If chainsaw guns, big dudes with excessively large biceps, and gruff one-liners suit your fancy, this reboot of the original apocalyptic alien-killing classic is well-worth revisiting. Enhanced with DirectX 12, GoW gets a nice facelift to match its explosive mayhem. Out now.

Ashes of the Singularity: With so much happening on-screen at once, this real-time strategy game is well-suited for DirectX 12's tech-tuning magic. For a blast of epic sci-fi warfare across battle-torn planetscapes, RTS fans won't be disappointed in the grand scale of this new offering. Out now.


Recommended specs for DirectX 12

To take advantage of DirectX 12's graphical and power upgrades, you're required to have Windows 10 installed on your machine. At present, there's still a free upgrade option for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, so take advantage while you still can.

Specific minimum system requirements vary for each of these games, but if you aim for VR-Ready system requirements, you should be ready to run any of these DirectX 12 picks comfortably. 

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • Memory: 8GB recommended minimum
  • Graphics card: Strix GTX 970 / Strix R9 390 or greater

The good news is DirectX 12 is designed to improve and enhance lower-end desktops and laptops, but to get the most out of what it has to offer, a more powerful rig will help you push your games to the max without any system chugging. If you're looking to upgrade, perhaps consider planning for the future with the Windows 10 equipped, Oculus-ready ROG G20CB gaming desktop -- which has everything you need to tackle any of the games on this list, and then some. Or are you happy with your existing rig but need a graphics card tune-up? No sweat. ROG Matrix GTX 980 Ti delivers quiet, cool performance with smoking hot speeds.


By Nathan Meunier